Nut cookies  and The pinza or pinsa of Venice 

Nut cookies :

Walnut biscuits are traditional cupcakes from the town of Maratea, on the Mediterranean coast of Basilicata. An artisanal Italian dessert par excellence, these cookies are characterized by the contrast between sugar and the slightly bitter taste of nuts. An Italian specialty to try at all costs!

Ingredients for 4 people

  • Nuts – 360 g
  • Sugar – 360 g
  • Eggs – 7 whites
  • Vanillin (vanilla sugar) – 1 sachet
  • Salt – a pinch

Preparation of nut cookies

To start, mix the nuts. In a large bowl, mount the egg whites in firm snow, with a pinch of salt. Still beating the egg whites, add the sugar (one spoonful at a time), then the walnut powder and finally the vanillin. Using a spatula, gently mix everything from top to bottom to ventilate the mixture as well as possible.

Turn on the oven at 130°C.  Pour the mixture into a piping bag with a spoon, and spread baking paper on an oven dish. Place on the baking paper small preparation circles of 4 cm in diameter and about 3 cm in height. Be sure to leave a distance of at least 2-3 cm between each cookie.

Bake the cookies for about 30 minutes, then remove them from the oven and let them cool. Nut cookies will have to dry, while keeping their light color. As soon as the cookies begin to take on a golden color, lower the oven temperature to 100 ° and finish cooking.

Advice

According to the original Italian recipe, these cookies are prepared with nuts, but you can also replace them with other dried fruits (hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, etc…).).

The pinza or pinsa of Venice                                  

It is a traditional cake that is prepared in Veneto, Friuli and some valleys near Trento during the Christmas holidays and especially for the Epiphany. On this occasion, bonfires are lit (called “panevinì” in the Treviso area).

It seems that this tradition derives from the purifying and propitiatory rites of the pre-Christian era, when the Celts lit fires to win the good graces of the deities and burned a puppet representing the past. While the fire burned, the peasants arranged in a circle, shouted and sang various greeting formulas.

Even today, this ritual is kept, which takes place on the eve of the Epiphany. The flame always symbolizes hope and the will to burn what is old (indeed we often burn “the old” placed at the top of the wood pyre). Sometimes the pyre is blessed by a priest and the crackling of holy water in the fire is attributed to the furious demon who flees.

The direction of smoke and sparks, raised on purpose by the peasants by means of a fork, is interpreted as an omen for the future. Several popular sayings refer to this rite.

We will now give you all the secrets to prepare this delicious recipe of the pinsa.

Ingredients for a mold about 25 cm in diameter

  • Flour – 100 g
  • Corn flour for polenta – 180 g
  • Lemon – 1 (for zest)
  • Butter – 50 g
  • Dried figs – 125 g
  • Sugar – 100 g
  • Raisin – 75 g
  • Pine nuts – 30 g
  • Fennel grains – 30 g
  • Milk – 1/2 liter
  • Salt – 1 pinch
  • Grappa – 30 ml
  • Cake yeast – 1 sachet

Preparation of pinsa

Start by rinsing the raisin and let it soak in the grappa. Cut the figs into small pieces.

Boil the milk, then pour the corn flour and cook it for 20 minutes. Add the butter in pieces, fennel grains, grated lemon zest and salt. Mix well.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of the planetary (machine for kneading the dough) with the sugar. As soon as the polenta becomes warm, add the raisin with the grappa, cut figs and pine nuts. Add the white flour and yeast and continue mixing with the K whisk of the planetary to amalgamate all the ingredients.

Turn on the oven at 170°. Pour the dough on an oven dish covered with parchment paper (oiled), flatten it well with your moistened hands. Put in the oven for about an hour and a half.

Once cooked, transfer the pinsa to a cake rack to let it cool. Serve it cold; the ideal is to let it sit for 2 days.

Advice

Each family and each locality has its own typical recipe. The ingredients are simple, poor and drawn from the peasant tradition. We can even add other ingredients, for example dried fruits, according to our taste; the result will always be tasty. If you don’t have grappa, you can replace it with brandy.

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